February 27, 2017

Archives for January 12, 2016

Colorado Supreme Court: Announcement Sheet, 1/11/2016

On Monday, January 11, 2016, the Colorado Supreme Court issued three published opinions.

People v. Kutlak

In re Marriage of de Koning

Doubleday v. People

Summaries of these cases are forthcoming, courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Neither State Judicial nor the Colorado Bar Association provides case summaries for unpublished appellate opinions. The case announcement sheet is available here.

Tenth Circuit: Mediation Not Enough to Exhaust Administrative Remedies Under IDEA

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in A.F. v. Espanola Public Schools on Tuesday, July 15, 2015.

Christine B. is the mother of A.F., a child with dyslexia who attended Espanola Public Schools (EPS) in New Mexico. In elementary school, she received Title I services, but made only minimal progress. In middle school, A.F. continued to struggle with language arts, math, and science, and failed half her classes. In 2010, although she was old enough to attend high school, EPS held A.F. back in eighth grade. Halfway through the year, however, she was directed to attend the local high school, where she was given remedial classes in the first half of the day and sat in the library, receiving no direction or tutelage, for the second half of the day. At some point during the spring semester that year, EPS changed A.F.’s schedule and placed her in academic classes for the second half of the day, which she failed. Christine B. asked EPS for evaluation and help for A.F., but EPS said it could be three to six months before the evaluation would occur. A.F. continued to fail her classes.

In February 2012, A.F. filed a due process hearing complaint through Christine B., alleging EPS had failed to identify or evaluate A.F. under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and further alleging EPS had violated the IDEA by failing to timely and comprehensively evaluate A.F. in all areas of need, failing to identify A.F. as eligible for special education services, failing to develop an individualized education program (IEP) for A.F., and failing to provide Christine B. with information required in connection with her evaluation requests. In May 2012, Christine B. and the district resolved the due process complaint by entering into a mediation agreement that purported to resolve all claims under the IDEA. In August 2012, A.F. by and through Christine B. filed in a complaint alleging violation of federal disability discrimination laws pursuant to Section 504 and the ADA and violation of her Fourteenth Amendment due process rights. The complaint was later removed to federal district court, and the district court dismissed her suit due to failure to exhaust administrative remedies. Christine B. appealed.

The Tenth Circuit majority opinion affirmed the district court. Interpreting 20 U.S.C. § 1415(l) to mean that Christine B. was required to first exhaust the procedures in subsection (f) and (g) of that section, the majority concluded that her mediation pursuant to subsection (e) was not enough to exhaust administrative remedies. The majority evaluated the plain language of the statute and Congressional intent in so concluding. The dissent, however, authored by Chief Judge Briscoe, disagreed with the majority’s characterization of Congressional intent, and would have found that mediation under subsection (e) was enough to fulfill the section’s exhaustion requirements. The dissent raised compelling statutory interpretation arguments as well, noting “why would Congress, after creating a framework that quite clearly encourages resolution of IDEA claims by various means, force a claimant to avoid resolution of her claim by mediation or preliminary meeting and lose at both the due process hearing and administrative appeal stages? Doing so would effectively render superfluous the mediation and preliminary meeting provisions of the statute.”

The majority panel of the Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court.

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 1/11/2016

On Monday, January 11, 2016, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued two published opinions and two unpublished opinions.

Powell v. Heimgartner

Stengel v. New Mexico Corrections Department

Case summaries are not provided for unpublished opinions. However, published opinions are summarized and provided by Legal Connection.